They are waiting
just over the horizon,
swords in hands, capable

of anything.
So we scurry
to our secret rooms

strip the larders
for fear

that all
will soon
be lost

My Utmost Wish



My father told me he spoke to ghosts as easily as people. Coming from him, this did not seem crazy. He mentioned  a conversation he’d had that morning with his grandfather, retold the joke he had heard. The fact that his grandfather dropped dead on the golf course on an April day in 1927 was of no consequence. The joke was a good one. Timeless, like its teller.

Now he too is gone, my father, gone to join the ghosts to which he spoke so easily.

I did not inherit his full facility with ghosts, only a touch of it. I can feel my father and know he is there, but he is mute. It is as though we swim together in the sea, masks and snorkels and fins. I can neither speak nor hear as I float through this world, its currents wafting hot and cold, up and down, the only sound my own stertorous breathing and the rush of blood in my ears.

I see him there, my father, floating in eddies of his own. Behind the plate glass of his mask I can see his lips moving.

To hear his voice is my utmost wish.


For my father, who would have turned eighty today.





Sunday Photo Fiction




PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

IN THE END, he stopped talking about it. Nobody had believed him, and one old friend had gone so far as to question his sanity in print. There was was a savagery in the piece that make it more like betrayal than incredulity.

And it was incredible, the more so in that out of the millions of camera phones in the city, not a single soul had taken a video or even a picture. He had met others who had seen it, but nobody had evidence.

They called themselves Witnesses, but Waiters would be more appropriate.

They waited.


Friday Fictioneers



PHOTO PROMPT © Shaktiki Sharma

The Subadar sat cross-legged on the floor of the dugout. The Germans had spent twenty-three of the last twenty-four hours lobbing shells at our trenches, and the sudden cessation made Captain Floyd nervous enough to send a scouting party into no man’s land to see what was up. The rest of us waited.

I was the only American in the division, the Subadar the only Indian. We spent a lot of time together. He would tell me comforting stories. My favorite story was Vimana, the castle in the sky where the gods lived, grinding out our fates with their millstones.


Friday Fictioneers




Sunday, January 16, 2005

Talked to Chris Morris on the phone about aliens, the end of the world, the meaning of both our lives, growing older, philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, my father, women in general and particular, the law, Oregon, the midwest, world culture, American history as it relates to the current situation, the spiritual world, dreams and a host of other subjects too numerous to mention. My cellphone nearly dead, I looked down when I hung it up and the number dialled read: 411.

The thing about the hand of God is that it is usually funny and is always apt.

The Nineteen-Forties



With strong purpose one more
of the heroes talks before and after,
looks to build and make the broad
shoulders real, and smokes
against her hat and flattened flannel

on a steam locomotive headed
out west, towards some station
of glad soldiers getting hearty hugs
and more, Ernie Pyle writing
about how the boys walk now,

in spite of it. Darkness, then,
lies only between racing shafts
of light barely seen on the barrel-train
where kissing necks and promises
are whispered in decay’s full bloom



(from 2005)

Soldier’s Home



I read about how infantry guys in WWII were envious of the Air Force crews because they flew their missions and went back to bases in England, whereas the infantry experienced total war 24/7.

Ah, technology.

I’m in the infantry, but on detached service to an agency I can’t mention. We sit in a dark room in a secret location and watch screens all day while sitting in cozy leather chairs. I started on surveillance drones, then moved onto the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator, then finally the MQ-9 Reapers.

It’s amazing how all those years playing video games trained me up for it, but there was a learning curve because aircraft are different. I got real good, and meanwhile the technology kept improving. When they offered a chance to draw combat pay without leaving Stateside, I jumped at it. I had gotten married by then, with a kid on the way. I could do this, I said. No different than a video game.

Six months into it, I was hit by sudden awareness that this was real, that those little figures I’d seen as targets were actual people, same as me.

I started having the nightmares. Seeing their faces.

Of course by then it was too late. I was making rank and even received a couple commendations.  Before too long, I was a flight leader with five drone pilots under me.

Last year, the Colonel approached me with something new.  Colonel said he saw my Silent Hill and Call of Duty scores. He told me I was just the man for the job.  He’d make me an officer. And again, I wouldn’t have to leave home.

Cybertroopers. Boots on the ground.  Face to face with the enemy, just like a video game.


Sunday Photo Fiction


Nonna Can’t Stand The Sight of a Sewing Machine



Sewing shirtwaists nine hours a day, Monday through Saturday for seven dollars a week. There was more than five hundred of us on the ninth floor. Bosses told us we was lucky to have jobs at all, bunch of dumb Dagoes who couldn’t speak no English, and women to boot.

That Saturday afternoon, one of the foremen was careless with his cigarette. The doors was barred to keep us from slipping out for breaks, so there was no getting out except through the windows.

The bodies fluttered down. People said they sounded like wet towels when they hit the sidewalk.


Friday Fictioneers


In 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in lower Manhattan caught fire and killed 146 immigrant workers. Click the picture for the story of this gruesome tragedy.






Seven Years



I had never been allowed in his garage.

None of us had, which might have been strange with anyone but him.

Aunt Nora said he’d been this way since his brother died, way back in the war.



The funeral was held despite the rain, since we are above all a practical family.

Aunt Nora came up to me as I was leaving and pressed a bunch of keys into my hand as she stood beneath my umbrella.

“You need to go through the garage,” she said.

Then, fishing in her black patent bag, produced an envelope from a local travel agent.

“I’m leaving for the islands.  Immediately. I bought an open ticket seven years ago and have been saving for this day.”

Her eyes had the old family fierceness, the same determination that had doomed five generations to the farm despite any plans to the contrary.

Now that he was gone, there was nobody left but me.

Aunt Nora was not asking.


Sunday Photo Fiction

The Night Before



“It’s not fair. You just did what they asked you.” She holds my hand in both of hers. “Why are you the only one being punished?”

“I was the only one who got caught.”

Her eyes brim. “The sacrificial lamb.”

“It’s only for two years. Maybe less. You know how overloaded the justice system is.”

“It’s prison, Wade. Like on TV.”

I pull her close. “Not like TV. It’s minimum security. Tomorrow I report, they’ll do intake and soon it will be routine. In a week, you can visit me.”

We don’t talk about what happens after I get out.


Friday Fictioneers